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1933 Judenboykott

Karstadt Dismissal Letter of Fritz Wolff

Click to Enlarge - dismissal Letter of Fritz Wolff by Karstadt 1933
Click to enlarge letter
The "Judenboykott" (boycott of Jews) of April 1st, 1933 had a specific target: elimination of Jews from German business life. This page shows proof of this historical story by offering a rare document: dismissal letter of a Jewish employee, Fritz Wolff, issued by the "Rudolph Karstadt Aktiengesellschaft" (better known today as the Karstadt chain store) company office in Berlin Hermanplatz.

The official dismissal letter, written in German and dated April 18th, 1933, informs Mr. Wolff that "for a long time, we have tried to hold your position at our firm...however, since the law and the time being what they are, and because of your Jewish origin, we have had many difficulties. Unfortunately, the present state of affairs force us to move forward. It is impossible to keep your position and prolong your contract. If we will do that, our firm will suffer grave damages".

"Those reasons force us to take these unfortunate steps and hereby inform you about the end of our mutual agreement. We are aware of the great pain this decision will cause you. In light of the current situation, we have no other choice. You will probably understand the steps we have taken, especially in the legal aspect, if you will put yourself in our shoes. To make things easier for you, we are prepared to pay you this month's salary (April), as well as next month's salary (May). With full attention, Rudolph Karstadt, Berlin Hermanplatz" (end of dismissal letter).
Prior to this dismissal letter, Mr. Wolff has been given a letter instructing him to go home for a forced 'vacation'. This 'vacation letter' is mentioned in the dismissal letter as a 'first message'. [German-English translation by the Breitman family, 2005].
View full document - Karstadt dismissal Letter of 1933

As reported by historians, already on 12th March 1933, the Hamburg department stores of Hermann Tietz, Karstadt, EPA and Woolworth were targeted, and temporary boycotted by Nazi pickets. Struan Robertson writes that in April 1st, 1933, NSDAP members and SA members (SA = Sturmabteilung, the Nazi storm troops) were posted in front of businesses to provoke passers-by and customers to boycott Jewish stores. The verbal threats and the distribution of handbills were very effective.

Six days later, on 7.04.1933, the new law "Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums" - act applying to civil servants with tenure, which included an "Aryan Paragraph" - has been enacted. With the re-establishment of a "national" civil service with tenure, civil servants could be dismissed. Civil servants who were not of "Aryan" descent, i.e. Jews (by Nazi definition), were compulsorily retired from work. The act was expanded quickly to include lawyers, public notaries, doctors & tax consultants.

Dr. Hinkel, Nazi party regional chief, who lectured in the Heidelbach meeting hall in May 15th, 1935, said regarding this issue: "The task we have in front of us is that of excluding the Jews from the economy. Once the Jew is denied the possibility - earning a living, he will turn his back on Germany. The German housewife who is in charge of most of the family’s shopping should buy exclusively from German merchants. As the Jews are known to conceal their identity, it is her role to refrain from buying in shops and department stores, known to be under Jewish influence or ownership. One of these is Rudolph Karstadt Ltd...Every National Socialist has to keep in mind that the department stores ruined the small shops...". [bolded sections are by this page's writer].
Mr. Fritz Wolff (1913-2006) has worked in the Karstadt main store in Berlin Hermanplatz, until he was fired in 1933 because he was Jewish. Understanding he had no work anymore in his birthplace, Fritz fled Nazi Germany to Holland. He later immigrated to Israel and settled in Haifa. A small apartment in Heinrich Heine street, in the Hakarmel district, provided him with a home, untill he died in 2006. He left no heirs.
Most of Fritz Wolff's family members were killed in the Jewish Holocaust ("Shoa"). His family's house in Berlin has been taken over by the city officials, never to be returned.

Mr. Wolff, a professional retailer and importer, opened his own private store in Haifa, which provided him with a respectable living in his trade. Later in life, he worked as the Israeli agent of many international household product companies. Fritz was an avid traveller, and flew around the world to visit America, Asia, Europe and Africa. To his last day, he received monthly financial compensation from the post-war German government ("Renta"). Not to be confused with another Israeli citizen named Fritz Wolff, living in Nahariya (a Northern Israeli town), Fritz was a big fan of classical music and ballett.

Fritz kept good relations with all of his German childhood friends (both Jewish and Chrisitians), although many of them have moved to South America, USA, UK, Australia and other Western Europe countries. Mr. Wolff has donated the original dismissal document to the Berlin Jewish Museum which opened in 2001, but carried the anti-semitic scar deep in his heart. Fritz never blamed the German people, only Hitler and the Nazi party leaders. Mr. Wolff passed away peacefully in Haifa, March 2006. He was almost 93 years old. He is buried in Haifa cemetery of Sde Yehoshua ("Kfar Samir").


About this page
This page, last edited in January 2015 by Uri Breitman, provides information for researchers, students and historians dealing with subjects like Nazi Germany laws, Jewish discrimination regulations, Jewish business boycott of 1933, historical employment discrimination, early stages of Nazi anti-Jewish actions, job discrimination in Hitler-era Nazi Germany etc. The scanned dismissal letter, offered as historical evidence, is meant to prove and explain how Jews were fired from their workplace, on the sole basis of their ethnic origin. The original dismissal letter of Fritz Wolff shows that his employers were well-aware of their problematic action regarding his job. Feel free to email Fritz's family with questions and further info.

 

Learn more about the 1933 Judenboykott

Boycott of Jewish Businesses [ushmm.org]

Organization of the Anti-Jewish Boycott of April 1, 1933 [Yad Vashem]

April 1, 1933 - Nazi Boycott of Jewish Shops [History Place]

The Anti-Nazi Boycott of 1933 [AJHS.org]

Timeline of Nazi Abuses 1933 [PBS]



Page created by Uri Breitman (email)

 

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Breitman's Manifesto